HSE Spot Check Update 2

19th November 2016 Posted in Blogs

Update 2


  • Excavator used in proximity to cast iron columns with no safe system in place to ensure that columns weren’t struck resulting in catastrophic structural failure.
  • Excavator found on a refurbishment/conversion job in the basement of a Victorian warehouse in Manchester.



  • Excavator being used with no assessment or appreciation of the risk to it hitting the cast iron structural columns supporting the entire building.
  • Additionally, the excavator had a diesel engine and was being used in an unventilated basement.


  • Prohibition Notice served on the use of the excavator in the basement.
  • Notice of Contravention served in relation to the use of the diesel engine.



No matter how minor a job, the use of work equipment must be properly considered and planned and all the associated risks identified and adequately controlled. This case exemplifies this point.

Safe Use of Work Vehicles

  • Excavators present a vast array of hazards.
  • A thorough risk assessment prior to the use of an excavator will ensure that any associated dangers, such as over head power lines or as in this instance, structural columns supporting the entire building, have been identified and the work area limited to exclude the columns. 
  • Training is a key component with the proper use of work equipment. Not only concerning the use of the work equipment,  but also training of the job specific safe system of work in place for the particular task. Familiarisation of the work area prior to the work commencing to ensure that the worker has an appreciation of risks in the designated area is essential.


  • In confined spaces, duty holders often fail to properly consider the fumes produced by work equipment and appropriate ventilation which can result in potentially very serious results, including carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • In such circumstances, it is necessary to conduct an assessment to identify the extent to which Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) is required in accordance with the size of the space and also whether any specialist breathing equipment is required.

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